On the 14th of November, project partners and European stakeholders met in Sofia, Bulgaria to discuss how to support business creation and entrepreneurship across local, regional, and European levels. 

We hope that today’s workshop will help us in implementing our innovation strategy in Bulgaria - Emil Komatichev, State Expert from the Ministry of Economy Bulgaria

The objectives of the day

After a welcome by Emil Komatichev, State Expert from the Misitry of Economy Bulgaria, Thematic Manager Thorsten Kohlisch highlighted the services offered by the Policy Learning Platform. An introduction to the topics and objectives of the day was then given from the thematic experts of the Policy Learning Platform, Renee Tõnnisson and Luc Schmerber. These objectives were to:

  • Update participants on the latest European intiatives for entrepreneurship;
  • Present Good Practices from selected Interreg Europe projects related to different aspects of entrepreneurial support;
  • Facilitate networking and mutual learning between projects; and
  • Find out how the Policy Learning Platform can further support projects.

After the opening and introduction to the day, participants heard from Bogdan Ceobanu presenting Startup Europe, an initiative of the European Commission, connecting startups, investors, accelerators, entrepreneurs, corporate networks, universities and the media. During this session, the objective was to answer the questions: What are the latest trends and developments from the European perspective? How can regions and European initiatives team up for entrepreneurial support?

Good Practices

From there, the workshop put good practices in the spotlight, highlighting regional solutions from the projects. Many examples of good practices were present, and we were able to feature regional policy solutions represented by the Interreg Europe projects BRIDGESESSPOFFWD Europe and RCIA.

For example, Diana Ciszewska, from the City of Lublin (RCIA project) presented the good practice Entrepreneurship Kids. She stated:

By nature, kids are creative and entrepreneurial. Through workshops, company visits and a big final event, the project gave kids from our city the possibility to apply their creative thinking skills and develop solutions which may turn into business plans in the future.

Another good practice was given from the ESSPO project from Daniela Tonchkova:

When deciding on financial support for innovative SMEs, face-to-face meetings with applicants have helped us to really understand their projects and ambitions.

Participants had the opportunity to hear good practices from all projects at the workshop, and were able to engage with them and ask questions throughout the presentations. 

Breakout sessions

Right after lunch, small working groups were made, where participants could engage more closely, covering topics like:

  • Major challenges and how to address them
  • Results to date
  • Experiences with interregional transfer
  • Learning expectations

The last session of the day included follow-up topics, to be considered in the next steps after the event. Some of the questions that came up included: How to ensure policy continuity in times of changing governments? How to manage business support ecosystems? and How to ensure the durability and impact of support schemes fostering entrepreneurial spirit?

Site visit

The day closed with a visit to the Puzl coworking space. There, participants got to see a good practice in action - Puzl represents a good practice on creating a modern business hub from an old factory. 

We would like to thank all the project representatives once more for joining us in Sofia!

More information, photos and seminar materials are available on the event website